At the Goethe Institut in the buffer zone of Nicosia
By Heidi Trautmann
‘Together we can’ is the name of the Bicommunal Initiative of Relatives of Missing Persons and Victims of Massacres and War and together they came and talked on many occasions. Sevgül Uludag, known for her limitless efforts to help finding the missing persons, talking to endless numbers of people, researching the smallest hints they found and…to write articles and books to awaken the awareness of people with the goal to one day come to peace by laying the truth open. “The Colour of Truth” an exhibition being the result of many meetings with relatives concerned, entering houses of those relatives in the northern as well as in the southern part of the island and going through suitcases full of souvenirs in order to learn out of first hand that the pain to be left in the dark about the whereabouts of the beloved ones cannot be forgotten. At the art studio of Nilgün Güney professional and amateur artists met to work on this sensitive project for eight months, visiting and re-visiting people in their homes, but also having them come to the studio at their own wish to talk about it further.
On the evening of the opening of the exhibition I heard some voices questioning the morale justification to bring more pain to those people by inviting them to the exhibition and even make two ladies come to the microphone to officially open the event. The question is justified, it depends on the standpoint of the viewer, but I think that it represents an official reaching out of hands for reconciliation, with other words…together we can overcome our pain, no more accusations but a search for solutions. A statement: the concerned themselves stand up and speak and hopefully silence the never ending voices of hate and mistrust.
Most of the countries in our world have ‘ghosts’ in their cellars and we know how difficult it is to come to terms with it. For this reason the Goethe Institut has supported a seminar to this effect in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Association of Historical Research and the Together-We-Can Bicommunal Initiative and have invited Mrs. Magdalena Scharf from Action Reconciliation/Services for Peace and Mr. Uwe Bader director of the ex-concentration camp Osthofen Memorial and Information Centre , to talk about “Remembering History – a case study from Germany”, a seminar on the following day through which Mrs. Sevgül Uludag has led as moderator. Mr. Bader has been to Cyprus more than once and has been meeting some people concerned, especially the one man who is connected to one painting, the one with the open suitcase full of memories. He told me the story, it had left a deep impression on him.
The artworks we saw at the exhibition in the exhibition hall of the Goethe Institut which was sponsoring the event were very touching and I think it is mostly the naivety in many of the paintings that gave me the impression that the artists have understood what they had learnt by their visits to the mass graves at Maratha-Sandallaris–Aloa, Palekythro, Galatia, Parisinos (Strovolos), Oroklini, Paralimni and Agios Georgios Alamanou, and what they were told by those relatives. There were also some very good photographs and an installation, but generally I would say that their heart was deeply involved with it, and nothing else matters.
The participants (Turkish, Greek, Syrian and Italian Cypriots!) were: Adi Atassi, Aydan Lisaniler, Christa Antoniou, Deniz Tevfik, Eda Gökçe, Ferali Kaya, Gaia Zaccagni; Mehtap Önem, Nilgün Güney, Simoni Symeonidou, Sophia Hadjipapa, Zalihe Şakir, Zeynep Uzun,
All participants have decided to donate their works to the Initiative ‘Together we can’; in the course of the year the exhibition will be shown at other place around the island of which you will be informed.
The exhibition at the Goethe Institut will be open until March 22.